Message of the EU Ambassador to PNG on Europe Day

(Source: EEAS)

Europe Day (9 May 2022)

Thank you for joining us today to celebrate Europe Day. On this day, 72 years ago, while Europe was still recovering from the second World War, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, launched the idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe designed to prevent any future conflicts.

The European Union has proven to be a model for achieving peace, stability, prosperity, based on democracy, the rule of law and the respect of Human Rights. That is why many neighbouring countries have expressed their interest to join the EU. Ukraine has just applied for EU membership and on 8 April, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, during her visit to Kyiv presented Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky with the paperwork for his country to join the European Union. Handing over the documents, she said “This is where your path towards the EU begins”. Von der Leyen intends to present Ukraine’s application to the European Council this summer.

I believe that by now, you are all aware of how important it is for the world, that the war ends – not only to stop the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and the massacre of its people but to reach peace to stabilize the prices of food and energy at global level that also has an impact on inflation rates in PNG and elsewhere.

This shows how the EU and PNG are confronted with the same challenge, despite the physical distance between us:  how to stop Russia’s aggression against Ukraine to prevent further destabilization of the global economy and order that is based on multilateral co-operation and peaceful co-existence, and to regain focus on pressing challenges for humanity such as climate change and reforming an under-performing global health governance. Therefore, the EU and PNG share common interests to expand and deepen their co-operation. The European Union remains committed to the partnership with PNG and the Pacific based on the EU-ACP Agreement. In addition to this agreement, the EU is expanding it’s commitment to the region by implementing the new EU strategy for co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region?, launched in September last year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The implementation of this new strategy builds upon 45 years of cooperation and partnership with PNG. Currently our areas of co-operation are multiple, and I could enumerate actions like the support for good governance, justice and the fight against corruption, the engagement in water and sanitation, the  support to rural entrepreneurship, investment and trade and, of course, our support for human rights, including gender equality, for which our Spotlight Initiative is already a well known ‘brand-name’ in PNG.

At the same time, it is also relevant to observe that after 45 years, our partnership has matured and for the next stage, we have defined objectives that are even more ambitious. Thus, PNG and the Pacific are included in the newly released EU Global Gateway strategy, which will promote sustainable and rules-based connectivity, green transformation and energy security.

The Global Gateway will be delivered through a ‘Team Europe’ approach, which brings together the EU and EU Member States with their financial and development institutions, including the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the private sector.

A relevant expression of this Global Gateway Strategy is the ‘Green-Blue Alliance for the Pacific’, launched at COP 26 in Glasgow last year. This focuses on addressing the Pacific region’s specific priorities: climate action, resilience and sustainable use of natural capital.  Indeed, despite the current challenges at home, the EU will firmly keep its ‘Green Deal’ commitments. In PNG, this is concretely reflected through our focus on the ‘Forestry, Climate change and Biodiversity nexus’ for which we have dedicated 63 million euros for the next four years, to support the preservation of forest and biodiversity, green energy production, transportation and agriculture.

We also intend to strengthen our partnership with PNG on Ocean Governance, including the all-important fishery resources management. A good opportunity to prove our collaboration potential on Ocean Governance is the second UN Ocean Conference, to be held in Lisbon next month.  As this event is expected to start a new chapter of global Ocean action, we should coordinate our positions effectively in order to promote our common agenda.

On trade, we are interested in expanding the full potential of our Economic Partnership Agreement beyond fisheries, to include other key PNG products such as cocoa, vanilla, timber and raw materials. Going beyond trade, our Gateway Strategy could provide opportunities for technical assistance and investments for the development of the agriculture sector in PNG, which has the potential to become the breadbasket of the Pacific.  Developing a sustainable agriculture sector and food industry in PNG is ever more important these days when we are facing a sharp rise in food prices.

Furthermore, the current crisis in Europe serves as a reminder of the urgency to secure our energy independence, primarily by accelerating the green transition and diversifying the sources of supply. To address this urgency, we have released last month, a strategy, suggestively called REPowerEU through which we will diversify gas supplies and will switch to other power and heating alternatives.

In the medium term, new LNG terminals will be built in Europe in order to accommodate imports from other suppliers than Russia. Perhaps, in few years time, Liquified Natural Gas originating from PNG will also play a role in EU energy security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to conclude by highlighting, once again, the importance of peace. I really hope that the Melanesian spirit of peace and reconciliation will find the right echo in the international arena, so that we can fully concentrate on our common long-term challenges such as climate change, protecting our oceans, preserving the tropical forests and achieving sustainable development.

I take this opportunity to announce that the celebration of 45 years of EU-PNG partnership coincides with the end of my mission in PNG – in just a few months-time. It has been an exciting and challenging three years. True to its fame of the ‘Land of the Unexpected’, I never expected to learn so many things and to work with so many wonderful people. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all my PNG friends and partners and to our international colleagues. You have all made my journey in PNG a successful and memorable one:

Long live Europe, Long Live EU-PNG partnership, Long Live Peace

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